If you’re looking for the home project that will give you the most bang for your buck, you simply can’t beat painting. A fresh lick of paint can do wonders to your rooms, making spaces appear larger, brighter, and more modern, depending on the colors you choose.
While painting is relatively inexpensive (compared with, say, completely renovating your kitchen), it’s one of those projects where the small costs can add up quickly, making it a more costly endeavor than you might have initially anticipated.
That’s why it’s important to plot out exactly what you’ll need ahead of time.
Regular paint for walls
Buying paint seems so straightforward, but there are actually several decisions to be made along the way.
First, the color. Take your time in choosing a color, because once a room is painted, you won’t want to have to redo it. Narrow it down to a handful of options and pick up samples of each—it’s worth the couple of bucks they charge for small sample cans. Paint swatches of each color on the different walls of the room. Observe the swatches for at least 24 hours, noting how the color changes at different times of day, before choosing your top pick.
Next, the type of paint. Depending on the brand you choose, there are usually several different types of paint to pick from. Generally, the cheaper the paint, the less it will stand up to wear and tear. You might be able to get by with an inexpensive paint in the guest room that is hardly ever used, but you’ll want a higher-quality paint for the hallway that sees plenty of traffic. Also worth noting: Many brands offer paint with primer already mixed into it, so you can skip the tedious task of priming your walls. These paints are higher quality than they used to be and allow you to get away with not priming if you’re painting over a lighter shade.
Finally, you’ll need to decide how much paint to buy. It’s usually less expensive to buy in larger quantities than small ones (e.g., those tiny cans of paint cost more on a per-gallon basis than a larger can), and odds are good that you’ll need more paint than you think. If you live close to the paint store, you can be conservative in your purchasing—just know that you’ll probably have to make a few runs to the store to pick up a couple more cans.
We already touched on the different types of paint that are available for your walls; now, it’s time to talk about specialized versions for the other things you’ll have to paint.
There are paints specifically made for doors, trim, closet doors, and baseboards. These paints are extra-durable and will last you longer than regular paint. Of course, they cost a little more—but consider that you’ll have to touch them up less frequently, saving you money in the long run.
If you keep the color of doors, baseboards, etc., consistent across all rooms, you can save by buying this specialized paint in larger quantities.
Save your carpet, hardwood floors, and furniture by investing in a few quality drop cloths. Skip the cheap plastic drop cloths—not only are these slippery, but they won’t absorb any paint that drips.
Consider picking up drop cloths in a few different sizes; long, narrow ones are perfect for hallways, while large, square ones are ideal when you’re painting a ceiling.
Paint brushes and pails
Good-quality paintbrushes will make your job a lot easier. You’ll use them for cutting in—meaning painting along the outside edges of the walls, where the walls meet the ceiling, other walls, doors, windows, and the floor. Paintbrushes will also come in handy when painting doors, trim, etc.
Pick up a few different sizes of brushes. Angled ones tend to be easier to work with.
The top cost-saving tip for paintbrushes is to clean and dry your brushes with care. An improperly cleaned brush will become gummy with old paint and will significantly decrease the quality of your work when you try to use it again. Don’t fall into the costly habit of tossing used brushes and buying new ones all the time.
Remember to pick up a couple of pails that will allow you to work with a small amount of paint at a time.
Rollers, covers, and trays
Once you’ve edged in your walls, it’s time to bust out the roller. Rollers are faster, more efficient, and smoother than paintbrushes. They aren’t terribly expensive, either, and the roller itself can be reused with different covers.
Paint rollers come in a few different sizes and lengths. An extendible roller is ideal if you’ll be painting tall ceilings and high walls. Be sure to check the measurements of your room to make sure that your roller can do the trick.
When it comes to paint roller covers, spring a few extra dollars for the higher-quality ones. The cheapest ones will lose lint, potentially ruining the look of your smooth, sleek walls. Covers can be cleaned and reused, but it’s worth picking up a couple of three-packs to get you through a larger, multi-room project.
Most people opt for a plastic or metal tray to hold the paint. Alternatively, you can choose a bucket paired with a metal grid that can be used to roll off excess paint.
Painter’s tape and scraper
Murphy’s law: You will need more painter’s tape than you think. Pick up however many rolls you think you’ll need, then add two more—and know that you’ll probably make a run to the store in a little while to pick up some more.
You’ll use painter’s tape to tape your ceiling, trim, baseboards, floors, etc., when you’re painting your walls. Then you’ll need it again to tape your walls when you’re painting your ceiling, trim, baseboards, floors, etc. All in all, it’s a lot of tape.
While you’re at the store, pick up a scraper to slick down the tape to ensure that the paint doesn’t bleed through the edges. Scrapers also come in handy for tucking tape under baseboards when you’re working with carpet.
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